Adolescent Empowerment


The United Nations defines adolescents as persons between the ages of 10-19 years. Adolescents constitute a critical segment of any society and the future demographic, social, economic and political developments of the entire population depend on them. Adolescents are fast emerging as a key focus group for the organization. As a reason, of late, there is an increased recognition of the need to address the particular challenges and opportunities that adolescents face, and of the critical role that they can play in shaping the equitable and sustainable development of countries. This was strongly reaffirmed in the SAARC Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents held in Kathmandu in September 2013( prioritization reaffirms the national and international organizations commitments to addressing the multiple challenges that adolescents face in India.


Globally 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10-19 years constitute 16 per cent of the world’s population.50 percent of the total adolescents worldwide are living in Asia.India is home to the largest adolescent population in the world wherein every fifth person is an adolescent in the age group of 10-19 years ( Between 1971 and 2011, the adolescent population more than doubled from 116 million to 253 million, which is more than the total population of 18 western Asian countries.

The state of Chhattisgarh accounts for 2.17 per cent of the total adolescent population of India – in absolute terms, this is 5.5 million of the total population in the state. Adolescents belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC) constitute 17.5 per cent and adolescents belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST) constitute 9.2 per cent of the total adolescent population of the country. In Chhattisgarh, adolescents belonging to SC constitute 13.6 per cent and adolescents belonging to ST constitute 30.9 per cent of the total population. The Chhattisgarh adolescent sex ratio at 972 females per 1000 males is one among the top five states (Venugopal et al, 2013)

Work Participation

The total number of adolescent workers in 2011 was about 37.8 million, of whom 24.0 million were males and 13.8 million were females. The work participation rate among adolescents in Chhattisgarh was 25.6 per cent in 2011, which registered an increase from 20.8 per cent in 2001. Adolescents engaged as agricultural laborers and cultivators constitute more than eighty per cent of the total adolescent work force.

Literacy & Education

The literacy rate of adolescents in India increased by 9 per cent, i.e. from 81 per cent in 2001 to 90 per cent in 2011. What it implies is that in 2011, one in 10 adolescents in India was illiterate as against the world scenario of 1 in 5 adolescents. Chhattisgarh with 91.9 per cent adolescent literacy rate ranks 22nd in the country. The adolescent literacy rate for the tribal population is lower than the state average.

Health, & Hygiene

Adolescents in Chhattisgarh face a number of challenges with regards to health and nutritional wellbeing. The NFHS 2015-16 data indicates that early marriage (21.3 per cent women age 20-24 were married before age of 18 years), early and unsafe initiation into sexual activities and consequently early childbearing, limited knowledge about HIV/AIDS (20.7 per cent women age 15-49 years had comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS), poor nutritional status (47.0 per cent women age 15-49 years are anemic; 26.7 per cent women had BMI < 18.5 kg/m2), poor menstrual hygiene management practices (47.1 per cent women use hygienic methods of protection during menstrual period) are some of the most predominant factors affecting the well-being of adolescents and women in the state. Lack of family support, unequal gender norms and limited communication between adolescents and their parents’ further impact this adverse condition.


There is evidence to suggest that prenominal growth that occurs in adolescent –second only to that in the first year of life creates increased demands for nutrients especially energy. However, national survey data (NFHS 4 2016) for Chhattisgarh reveals that situation is worrisome for adolescents in the state as 40 % of adolescent girls have BMI less than <18.5- an indicator of total thinness manifesting undernutrition. While the situation is worse off in boys with 46 % of them being undernourished as per the same data source. With regard to anemia –the pattern is same for severe form of anemia, however, prevalence of anemia in any form is significantly higher in girls (45.5%) than boys (27.4%). Both, undernutrition and anemia result in delayed linear growth, decreased physical performance and learning capacity (Venkaiah, et al. 2002)


While the above statistics indicate some of the more easily quantifiable indicators of the status of adolescents, it must be noted that this group also faces vulnerabilities in many other areas. Hundreds and thousands of girls and boys are caught in powerful nexuses of traffickers and agents and are ‘missing’. They end up being victims of sexual assault, trafficking for sex work or employment/ labor and in particular domestic help, begging, pornography, promotion of sex tourism, sexual exploitation at bars and massage parlors, etc. (Amin and Chandra, 2014). Trafficking in children accounts for more than half the cases registered with regards to human trafficking and has reported an increase of about 26 per cent in 2015 as compared to 2014 (NCRB 2015). Procuration of minor girls constitute 45 per cent of the total cases of human trafficking reported in 2015.

Existing Policies

There are a number of policies (the National population policy (2000); National Aids Prevention and Control Policy (2002) (Neha Mishra.pdf) (D61617054) ; National Health Policy (2002); National Youth Policy – 13 to 35 year olds (2003), and schemes such as Scheme for Adolescent girls (SAG), WIFS and RKSK, as well as legislations targeting adolescents, such as Child Marriage Restraint Act (1978); Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006); Child Labor Prohibition Act (1984); Dowry Prevention Act, the JJ Act and more recently, the POCSO (Prevention of Child Sexual Offences) Act. Poor implementation of policies and schemes and weak enforcement of legislations is a concern. This brings into picture the issue of governance. Further, there is also a need for an integrated and collaborative effort as underlined in policy pronunciations.

Measures to Tackle Adolescent Issues

Many national and international organizations and the central and state governments are working jointly in collaboration to provide support to the child protection programs and to strengthen the efforts of Department of Women and Child Development and Education towards adolescent empowerment.These agencies provide the technical skills and help to build up the capacities of the stakeholders and the state teams to plan, implement and monitor a robust adolescent and community engagement package in settings that are appropriate for adolescents both in and out of school. Their programs are mandated to support he government in implementing communication programs through institutionalized systemic processes to achieve the objective of improving demand for services, peoples participation in the development process raising social and political accountability of communities and representatives to bring about a social change that affect the life of children and adolescents in a positive manner.


  3. Venugopal, Reeta & Varoda, Aniksha & Srivastava, Priyamvada. (2016). Growth Pattern and Nutrional Status of adolscent girls of Chhattisgarh. International Journal of Current Research. 8. 36643-36647.
  4. Venkaiah, Kodavalla & Damayanti, K & Nayak, Uma & Vijayaraghavan, K. (2002). Diet and Nutritional status of rural adolescent in india. European journal of clinical nutrition. 56. 1119-25. 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601457.
  5. Amin, A., Chandra-Mouli, V. Empowering adolescent girls: developing egalitarian gender norms and relations to end violence. Reprod Health11, 75 (2014).
  6. (Neha Mishra.pdf) (D61617054)

Swarupa Pandit

Assistant Professor

Kalinga University

Naya Raipur

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